Tuesday, 24 March 2015

the Lamppost and the Tower

They are not the same. A lamppost and the BT tower.  However at a distance a relationship can be created.  Is this how the David and Goliath concept began do you suppose.  Bravery at a distance that is hard to relinquish when you reach the destination and see the true size.   Recently my BT internet reception pales into insignifigance when compared with the light one receives from an ordinary street lamp.  Especially this week!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Paper Flowers

Cutting, twisting, folding, hours spent with sheets of coloured tissue paper.  And here are the results.  

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Ted and Ginger Rogers

.. no not really, more like Ted and the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, but we’ll get to that soon.  Back to Ginger, who contrary to popular belief, was not called Ginger because of her hair colour.  Her name was actually Virginia and one of her cousins just found that too hard to pronounce and so called her “Ginga” and the rest as they say, is history. If Ginger had been born in Ireland then I am pretty sure she would have been a regular attendee at the annual Redhead Convention, where they celebrate their all things redhead, they even have carrot (with tops) tossing championships!!

Exciting as that all is, I am going to focus instead on that most marvellous, but ugly of spices, the real Ginger.  There’s nothing bad about ginger at all, it's all good. It is indeed a super food and a medicine to boot. “Root” ginger is the underground rhizome of the ginger plant, and it seems that it’s pretty much good for everything from treating colds and flu, to stomach conditions, and nausea. It has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and cancer retarding properties as well. But for most of us it is just that irreplaceable and absolutely delicious ingredient in the many thousands of foodstuffs, confectionery, and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages we enjoy so much, as part of our everyday diet.

So to whom do we owe thanks for this wonderful culinary and medicinal gem then Ted? Well many of the Asian and Oriental countries had been growing it and using it for many centuries before it made its way to Europe in 1585 as the first oriental spice from the “new world” imported from Jamaica. Nowadays over 3 million tonnes are grown and consumed annually. India leads the production, supplying 33% of the world’s ginger. China is next at 20%, with (and this was a surprise to me) Nepal coming in third at 12%, followed by Nigeria (another surprise) and Thailand around 7% each and then Indonesia 5%.

I have childhood memories of helping to bottle home-made ginger beer. I also remember lying in bed at night and hearing what I thought at first where gunshots, only to find out that it was indeed just the noise of an apparently rather common occurrence in farmhouses … the still brewing ginger beer blowing their bottle tops off and spraying their contents all over the pantry.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Under the Arches

Colourful grunge.  Under the railway arches and not far from yesterday's colourful cycle store things are very different.

Friday, 20 March 2015

The Cycle Store

Under the arches at Elephant and Castle bright bikes and an equally colourful store.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

An English Bird

Apparently Britain doesn't have a national bird and so ornithologist David Lindo wants to rectify this situation.  His own favourite would be the blackbird.  But he wants you all to vote for your choice, and has set up a website with the ten birds he has selected as likely candidates. 

Now which one would you pick?  The barn owl, robin, wren, maybe a swan?  To check them all out and cast your vote visit his site here.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Peace, Justice and Honesty

Islam just as in Christianity has many sects.  Here in London the largest mosque in Western Europe is that of the Ahmadiyya sect.  With millions of followers and in over 200 countries their message is one of peace, tolerance and inclusion.

On March 14 they held their twelfth inter-faith Peace Symposium on the theme of  “Religion, Freedom and Peace” at their mosque in Mordon.  More than a thousand people from around the world attended.  They included politicians, ambassadors, religious leaders and intellectuals and me.

The event always honours a person who has advanced the cause of peace.  This year the award was given to Mrs Sindhutai Sapkal.  Also known as the “Mother of Orphans”, she is a social worker and activist known for her work raising orphan children in the district of Maharashtra, India.

Her life is an achievement in itself.  She was a cowherd who was married at the age of ten and had three sons by the age of twenty.   When she clashed with the local strongman who was fleecing the local community, a local councillor convinced her husband to divorce her.   At the time she was nearly full term with their fourth child, a daughter.  She turned to her mother who refused to take her in.  

Desperate and suicidal she thought of all the children who are abandoned by their families and decided she would be their surrogate mother.   Over the ensuing decades she “adopted” more than 1000 children.  Devoting her entire life to mothering and nurturing them.

At the age of 80, her husband came back and apologised.  She took him in as another child, stating she is only a mother now.

Speakers from various communities and sectors spoke to the theme of the symposium and the effects on local and world events.  The keynote address at the event was given by the global spiritual head and Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
Mention Islam or Muslim these days and the chances of a negative reaction are pretty high.  His hard hitting speech condemned all forms of terror and warned that a world driven by greed and an unquenchable thirst for power was heading toward a third world war.  Anti-immigrant sentiments growing and a global arms race were also undermining peace.

He said, it is the responsibility of every country and community, all people and their leaders to change direction and fulfil the requirements of justice, fairness and honesty at all levels of society.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Historic Townhouse

Blue Plaques are a quick way to grab a bit of English history.  The scheme that has been around since 1866 tells us who lived here and when.  This Holborn town house was very popular in the 19th century.  Sir Syed Ahmend Khan a muslim reformer and scholar lived here from 1817-1898.  R H Tawney historian, teacher and political writer lived here from 1880-1962.  

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Ted and the mighty "mites"

… that will be Marmite and Vegemite then … two of the most popular yeast spreads in the UK and Australasia today.  It seems that you are either a Marmite person ("like it or hate it" as the slogan goes) or a Vegemite person, with very few people liking both, apart from Italians apparently ...

Both “mites” are made from spent brewer’s yeast … yep used yeast, a secret process with a few secret ingredients thrown in, a bit of alchemy, and voila you have either Marmite or Vegemite.  Marmite actually came first and shot to fame and fortune when we discovered vitamins in 1912, and realised that it was a very rich source of the vitamin B complex, composing of (hard to spell) good stuff like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid. Pretty soon Marmite was in every lunch box in the country and in the rations of all the front line British troops in World War I.

The war led to the disruption of Marmite supplies to Australia so the Australian’s just got on an invented their own and called it Vegemite.

They duly shipped it across the sea to New Zealand and got them hooked on it too. In fact the two products are still very similar in vitamin and nutrient content today, with only Vitamin B12 being missing from the Vegemite goodies line up for some reason.

A NZ health food manufacturer called Sanitarium quickly got in on the act and negotiated an agreement with the UK Marmite manufacturers to allow changes to the Marmite recipe to make it more to Antipodean tastes, and that they could then sell that version “down under”. 

In 2011, the NZ Marmite factory had to shut down as a result of a devastating earthquake suffered in the city of Christchurch, and when Sanitarium announced that its back stocks of Marmite had run out New Zealanders rushed to their supermarkets in a fit of frenzied panic buying calling Marmite “black gold” and labelling the shortage crisis “Maramageddon”. Supplies are now thankfully back to normal.

Marmite and Vegemite are both consumed in various ways and added to numerous dishes to bring that savoury, salty, umami like flavour.  Why you can even buy Marmite crisps and cashew nuts baked with Marmite. My favourite way to eat it is to spread some nice warm toast with butter and once that melts I spread some "mite" on top – see if you can tell which is which “mite” on the toasts.

So which one do you like Ted … well I am, as the Australian advertising jingle from the 1950’s proclaimed, … “a happy little Vegemite”     

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Teddy Paddock

In 1927 at just 19 years of age Teddy Paddock was crowned bantamweight champion of the world.  Having defeated Archie Bell of America for the vacant title. He retained the title until 1931.   He also held the titles of European Champion from 1928-1931, Commonwealth champion from 1928-1930 and British champion 1928-1931.

All this information is on the plaque that accompanies the statue that stands in Langdon Park.  Yet I can't find any other information about this local icon.  Does anyone out there know about him?

Friday, 13 March 2015

The Flyover

My adventure in the north west has not inspired me (so far), to encourage you to come with me.  Grey in every sense of the word. 

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Divorce and Other Quirks of Life

Money Laundering, Microbreak, Divorce, The Dream, these are just some of the games you can play at the Novelty-Automation arcade.  Quirky and fun, each machine is hand made by enthusiasts who probably spent way to long in the penny arcades of their childhood.  Not a single computer here!

Entry to the arcade is free, then you purchase your tokens and start playing.  I had a fit of the giggles as I rode the micro break machine.  Something like a 1950's virtual reality machine.  You sit in an old fashioned armchair that sways and rocks as you fly into the air, then land and transfer to mini van that will drive you to your remote tropical island.  The dream is more of a nightmare and the divorce? Well you can see the outcome of that one.

Open Wednesday to Saturday every week from 11am to 6pm.
1a Princeton St Wc1R 4AX
(just a hop and step away from Holborn underground station) 
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